Most disabilities shouldn't preclude anyone from traveling. There are more options and resources out there than ever before.
Several travel agencies offer services for travelers with disabilities who are eager to explore the natural and cultural wonders of New York State. People and Places (tel. 716/937-1813 or 716/496-8826; www.people-and-places.org) offers escorted tours for vacationers with developmental disabilities to the Adirondacks, Catskills, Thousand Islands, Finger Lakes, and other destinations in New York State. Next Stop New York (tel. 800/434-7554 or 718/264-2300; www.nextstopnewyork.com) designs theater, food-tasting, and sightseeing tours of Manhattan for groups or individuals. Alternative Leisure Co. & Trips Unlimited (tel. 781/275-0023; www.alctrips.com) offers group excursions in New York and New England as well as a "Traveling Companion" program, which provides staff members to accompany individuals on customized trips.
The America the Beautiful -- National Park and Federal Recreational Lands Pass -- Access Pass (formerly the Golden Access Passport) gives travelers who are visually impaired or have permanent disabilities (regardless of age) free lifetime entrance to federal recreation sites administered by the National Park Service, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation. This may include national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges.
The America the Beautiful Access Pass can be obtained only in person at any NPS facility that charges an entrance fee. You need to show proof of medically determined disability. Besides free entry, the pass also offers a 50% discount on some federal-use fees charged for such facilities as camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours. For more information, go to www.nps.gov or call tel. 888/467-2757.
Organizations that offer a vast range of resources and assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (tel. 215/663-6000; www.mossresourcenet.org); the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) (tel. 800/232-5463; www.afb.org); and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality; tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.
Access-Able Travel Source (tel. 303/232-2979; www.access-able.com) offers a comprehensive database on travel agents from around the world with experience in accessible travel; destination-specific access information; and links to such resources as service animals, equipment rentals, and access guides.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are Flying Wheels Travel (tel. 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com) and Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com).
Flying with Disability (www.flying-with-disability.org) is a comprehensive information source on airplane travel. Avis Rent a Car (tel. 888/879-4273) has an "Avis Access" program that offers services for customers with special travel needs. These include specially outfitted vehicles with swivel seats, spinner knobs, and hand controls; mobility scooter rentals; and accessible bus service. Be sure to reserve well in advance.
Also check out the quarterly magazine Emerging Horizons (www.emerginghorizons.com), available by subscription ($16.95 year U.S.; $21.95 outside U.S.).
The "Accessible Travel" link at Mobility-Advisor.com (www.mobility-advisor.com) offers a variety of travel resources to persons with disabilities.
British travelers should contact Holiday Care (tel. 0845/124-9971 in U.K. only; www.holidaycare.org.uk) to access a wide range of travel information and resources for travelers with disabilities and seniors.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.